Rebels, Radicals and Rough Justice: Historic Clerkenwell
The Clerk's Well
Stop here, and look to your right. The building with square columns framing large glass windows is Well Court. Go over to it, and look through the windows. Inside you can see what looks like an old water pump, surrounded by pictures of medieval scenes.
Stop here, while I tell you its story.
This is a modern reconstruction of the pump that was used in the middle ages by Parish Clerks, to supply water to local inhabitants. The well gave the name 'Clerkenwell' to this district of London. The area by the well was used to perform 'Mystery Plays'. The word 'Mystery' is in fact an English corruption of the French word 'Metier', meaning ' craft' or 'profession'. Few people could read in the 1100s, so various craft guilds performed plays showing bible stories, so as to teach people about religion.
Another nearby well was operated by the Sadlers Guild, and that area is still called Sadlers Wells. The well has long ceased to operate. In fact, its location was not known until it was uncovered during building works in 1924.
When you’re ready to move on, turn back the way you came, with Well Court on your left. Then walk to the corner, turn left, and keep walking, passing the Sessions House on your right.